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Empty Trash

Try it, says Sarah Spivey, as the managing director at Modulift takes a social media sabbatical.

It wobbled like jelly until I sent my tired, overused, now muscular, hammer-like thumb crashing down onto the 'x' to send it tumbling back into cyberspace.

Facebook—gone.

LinkedIn—dumped.

Instagram—trashed.

A number of other smart device apps—binned.

My mobile phone almost breathed a sigh of relief. I certainly did.

There, I did it. I'm off social media.

I know the decision will prove controversial as many (most) of my readers are active on social platforms. Moreover, it might even smack of hypocrisy given that my company is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. But let me explain my reasons and outline how such media can be used qualitatively to make its use more productive, indeed, healthy.

Thumbelina

I did what many do every night: I sat indoors at the end of an already screen-intensive, stressful day, with my phone in hand—little finger supporting the bottom, other digits wrapped around the back, and thumb free to press the screen. I'd open an app, scroll through, 'like' some posts, interact with others, and then open the next platform and do the same.

"Hang on a minute," I'd say to a family member as they looked up from their own smart device to ask if I'd seen someone's Instagram live video.

When it came to bedtime, I was wired; my eyes were burning, and my head was spinning like a top.

There was no epiphany but it came to my realisation over time that I was investing an awful lot of time in social media—for what? I rarely saw something that offered real value to my personal or professional life, and everything was so shallow. Here's a photo, great, but what about it? Why should I care? What's interesting about it? Here's someone live, eating his or her dinner!

Not only was I guilty of not spending precious time with my young children but also I was setting an appalling example. How can I tell them to put their iPads down or read a book instead if they see their mother thumbing away on Facebook? How can we as adults expect the next generation to make eye contact, be courteous, engage with people, and formulate arguments and opinions, if they see the extent of their parents' social lives being played out by emojis?

Missing link

Regular readers of my blog know how my enthusiasm for LinkedIn, in particular, has waned over time. It's now borderline redundant. This once useful tool for connecting with fellow professionals has become a kind of business Facebook, rife with clickbait. Look at my crane, people say. But why was it chosen? What were the rigging challenges? What was the scope of work? Was centre of gravity an issue? How might the industry learn something from this application?

It's not a trade magazine and shouldn't pretend to be one.

Oh, look, I got 30 likes! But what does a like actually equate to?

I'm not suggesting everyone goes cold turkey, but consider a reset. Is it really necessary to spend breakfast, a commute, lunch break, journey home, dinner, and all evening on a smart device? Improve the quality of one's posts and engagement. Turn off and watch a high-level news bulletin. Read a business book. Flick through a trade magazine. Lift your head up and gaze at the world. What's happening where your customers live? Is there a humanitarian or economic circumstance that one needs to be aware of, beyond the details included in a tweet?

Worldly-wise

Take the financial turbulence in Argentina as an example. We've got valuable and treasured relationships in the region and it's important we engage with them. Yes, I could like their Facebook posts or send them a DM (direct message) but far better to learn about the extent of the crisis, give them a call, and open real-life dialogue. If an area suffers a storm or earthquake, does it really suffice to post a generic post saying, "Hope everyone is ok"? I don't think so.

There was a fascinating story on the news the other night about a wind farm to which my company has supplied below-the-hook equipment. It was hugely enlightening and could help us formulate future strategy. There's no way my social media apps could've afforded such insight.

Try it tonight. Put your phone down for a couple of hours. I bet you feel refreshed, sleep better, and arrive at work tomorrow in a better, sharper, frame of mind.

I liked John's headline to his guest blog last month. It really can be "Antisocial Media".

Sarah Spivey

Managing Director

Modulift

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